Here at Shaving Shack, our mailbox is flooded with gents often complaining, and rightly so, about the high costs of cartridges and asking advice about how to get started traditionally shaving. It is undisputable that shaving with a double edge razor is less expensive than using modern cartridges. Just a simple cost comparison shows that for the same price of a pack of 4 replacement cartridges, you can buy 50-100 double edge blades. We love hearing from you our loyal customers and would like to offer you some practical points on how to get started!
The first place to start would be the equipment: razor, blades, brush, soap/cream, and aftershave. It seems like a lot, but once you get these main purchases down they will last you for many years, decades, or life. As with many purchases start with what you can afford, and as you get used to traditional shaving explore and find which items suit your needs best.
Your razor should be one with good reviews and from a reputable company such as Merkur, Muhle, Edwin Jagger, or The Bluebeards Revenge. I personally recommend The Bluebeards Scimitar, Merkur 34C, and Edwin Jagger DE89 as great beginner razors.
Soaps and creams can be found in a huge variety of scents and flavours. If you know your water type, creams tend to work better in hard water and soaps better in soft water. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and good technique can overcome most water quality issues. Many of the most popular companies to produce soaps and creams are Bluebeards, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Cyril Salter, Mitchell’s Wool Fat, and Proraso amoung many others.
Blades are the most subjective of the wet-shaving experience, but it is best to start with a good standard blade and as your technique improves, then find a blade that more suits your face. Some of the most popular blades are Derby, Feather, Personna, Shark, and Wilkinson-Sword.
An overwhelming variety of choices can be found for the shaving brush, with the hair type being the most obvious. Choices of boar bristle, badger hair, and a variety of synthetics are available on the market. If your convictions lead you to stay away from animal products, you are in luck as many advancements in recent years have led to great strides in synthetic fibers being able to function as natural hair. The Men-U brushes have received rave reviews in their ability to hold water and produce good lather. The Bluebeards Vanguard brush should also be a good bet to try as well. For a natural hair brush, boar bristle brushes tend to be less expensive, but perform well. The Semogue 830 and 1305 are quite popular, as is the Vulfix Grosvenor, and the Bluebeards Revenge Dubloon. The badger hair brush has been used for many many years, and is the most desirable. It has a superior water retaining quality, softness on the face, and a superior lathering ability. There are many to choose from and a few recommended would be the Bluebeard Privateer, the Kent BK4, Simpsons Duke, with Plisson being the cream of the crop. As mentioned above buy the best you can afford, the quality will reward you with a better feel, and longevity.
To perform the shave, first shower or hold a hot wet towel to the face; this softens the outer layer of hair allowing for an easier cut. Prepare the brush by soaking it in water, then gently shaking the majority of the water out. Gently press the tips of the brush into the cream or soap gathering enough material to shave with. Lather your soap in a bowl or on your face using a whipping motion and adding water as needed to create a thick lather that resembles whipped cream or meringue. Holding your razor against the face an an approximate 30 degree angle, shave with as little pressure as possible in the direction of hair growth. Remember to use short strokes and rinse the razor often. After you have completed the first pass, re-lather and shave across the direction of hair growth, then rinse the lather from your face. After rinsing apply your choice of aftershave, whether a balm or alcohol based splash.
A few tips as you improve your technique: keep your wrist locked and use a whole arm motion, a pre-shave oil will help those gents with tougher beards to retain moisture and provide glide, leaving 2-3 days between shaves gives the skin rest and leaves longer hair to shave. With these general gear guides and tips we hope you will have the information to choice your equipment well and have a fabulous shave!
If you have any questions for Aaron please submit them here.